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Improved DUATS briefing services promised in new FAA documentImproved DUATS briefing services promised in new FAA document

Pilots should expect even better DUATS flight briefing services in the future, thanks to a new FAA " Concept of Operations" that incorporates numerous AOPA suggestions. Future enhancements will include interactive briefings, where the pilot and flight service station (AFSS) briefer can simultaneously talk to and view the same weather graphics on a computer screen.

"We want to thank the FAA for acknowledging pilots' concerns and incorporating many of AOPA's recommendations into their 'blueprint' for DUATS," said Melissa K. Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic services. "We're pleased that the FAA has committed to utilizing today's technology to improve pilot briefings."

The concept of operations, which was signed last week, pledges that DUATS (Direct User Access Terminal system) will provide pilots with direct access to aviation weather, notams, and other information relating to airspace and air traffic control, flight plan processing tools, and interactive briefings with AFSS personnel. A pilot will be able to plan a flight off-line, then connect to DUATS via a dial-up or Internet connection and download weather, flight information text, graphics, file flight plans, and then connect with an AFSS briefer for more information.

The pilot and the briefer will have the same information and graphics in front of them, making it much easier for the pilot to see what the briefer is describing.

Two private contractors, funded by the FAA, currently provide DUATS. Those contractors have improved the service significantly through the years by adding graphics, educational outreach to pilots, advanced user interface software, and other enhancements at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

The new concept of operations promises that the FAA will continue to follow this model of improving service to pilots.

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